Andreas Røysum Ensemble-Andreas Røysum Ensemble.

Label: Motvind Records.

Over the last decade, the Norwegian jazz scene  has been thriving, and today is one of the most vibrant in Europe as a new generation of up-and-coming musicians follow their dreams to make a living playing jazz. They hope to follow in the footsteps of Jan Garbarek, Terje Rypdal, Nils Petter Molvaer and Ketil Bjørnstad who were amongst the first generation of Norwegian jazz musicians, and musical pioneers who influenced and inspired several generations of musicians. 

This includes the latest generation of Norwegian jazz musicians who spend their time collaborating and others forming new bands that go on to release albums of ambitious, imaginative and innovative music. The latest to do so is the Andreas Røysum Ensemble who recently released their eponymous debut album on Motvind Records. It’s the latest chapter in the story of bandleader, composer and clarinetist Andreas Røysum, who is another of the rising stars of Norwegian jazz.

He’s also articulate, engaging and has some interesting things to say about life and music:  “Most of the time that I am not playing or listening to others play, I hear beautiful music in my own head. Melodies, harmonies, rhythms and sounds single-handedly turn out, as gifts that I luckily have the opportunity to receive and further develop. This is the way the music on this record originated. This far I have a fairly similar experience with composition, playing music and life in general; submission of too many rigid concepts will eventually burn out the light that is constantly giving. By basing my music on these gifts I feel like a medium in a precise point in history. It enables me to be an artist.”

And Andreas Røysum has been an artist for several years now. During that period, he’s been involved in number of different projects. He was part of the musician’s collective Nakama, the Marthe Lea Band and has collaborated with German trumpeter Axel Dörner and Danish drummer Kresten Osgood. Still he found time to work with Anders Brørby on his 2018 album Traumas.  That is only part of the Andreas Røysum story.

The same year 2018, Andreas Røysum was part of Miman when they released their critically acclaimed debut album Ulme on Motvind Records. Just a year later in 2019, Miman returned with the highly anticipated followup Stora Mängder Rymdgru. It was an innovative album of improv that was released to plaudits and praise. Andreas Røysum had played his part in the sound and success of the album, but in August of 2019 he had embarked upon a new project.

He had founded the Andreas Røysum Ensemble. Joining him in the new Ensemble were nine of best friends from Oslo thriving jazz scene. These talented and like-minded musicians were about to join record an album, and on the ‘20th’ of August 2019 headed to Flerbruket to work with recordist and producer Magnus Nergaard. 

Joining bandleader, composer and clarinetist Andreas Røysum were drummer Ivar Myrset Asheim; double bassists John Andrew Wilhite-Hannisdal and Christian Meaas Svendsen; alto saxophonist Signe Emmeluth; tenor saxophonist Marthe Lea; flautist Henriette Eilertsen; violinist Hans Kjorstad; cellist Joel Ring and Sanskriti Shresta played tablas. They recorded six tracks during two sessions which Andreas Røysum  Ensemble’s eponymous debut album.

Each session became a side of the album, which showcases the combined and individual talents of the ten young jazz musicians. They’ve all been in a number of groups and have a wealth of experience. This they put to good use whether playing as one or embarking on a solo on an album where disparate genres melt into one.

There’s elements of everything from African and Indian music  as well as avant-garde, chamber music, experimental, folk, free jazz, gospel, improv and Nordic jazz on Andreas Røysum Ensemble. There’s also the influence of Albert Ayler, Don Cherry, Pharaoh Saunders and Sun Ra on an album where the music is new, exciting and innovative.

That’s the case as the album opener Novas Dans unfolds, and the Andreas Røysum  Ensemble is like a big band the music initially playful and melodic as it swings. Then when the horns take centrestage they’re played blaze, bray and rasp before becoming smooth and sinuous. They’re joined by the flute as cymbals ring and crash and drums are pounded and the clarinet swings. Together they play their in a beautiful, joyous and uplifting track that has been influenced by Don Cherry, Albert Ayler and Sun Ra.

Kvartett Fra Tidens Begynnelse #1 (Quartet From The Beginning Of Time» #1) was written by French composer Olivier Messiaen whilst he was a prisoner of war. Scratchy, plink plonk strings and a myriad of otherworldly noise flit in and out of the arrangement. There’s screeching, howling, sci-fi and metallic sounds as well as bangs,  crashes, scraping, scratching and wheezy sounds from this alternative orchestra. The music is edgy, eerie, cinematic and dramatic. Adding to the drama is a bass that is plucked firmly, droning horns, crashing cymbals and the wind quartet that quiver, shiver and flutter painting pictures durum what’s now a haunting, melancholy and thought-provoking epic. 

Tablas open Indialuring and is joined by strings before the tempo increases. The tablas propel the sensuous, rhythmic  and energetic arrangement along. It sways seductively as it casts a  spell and leaves a lasting impression.

Initially, På Tur has a relatively simple arrangement, and at its heart is the interplay of the rhythm section of Sanskriti Shresta’s and drummer Ivar Myrset Asheim. They’re joined by ruminative horns and scratchy, droning and almost discordant strings. Later, they become thoughtful, questioning and probing as the drums and tablas propel the arrangement along. Together they create an enigmatic, joyous and jubilant track that captivates.   

Kvartett Fra Tidens Begynnelse #2 is the shortest composition on the album. It’s just over two minutes long, but it’s unforgettable. The wind quartet is responsible for what’s akin to a musical skirmish, and Andreas Røysum is it the heart of this dramatic confrontation 

Quite different is Til Albert which closes Andreas Røysum Ensemble. The six majestic minutes veer between hard blowing free jazz and a more melodic sounding track that is beautiful, uplifting, elegant and engaging. Playing a starring role is  bandleader and clarinetist Andreas Røysum. He’s saved one of the best until last.

When Andreas Røysum was putting together his Ensemble he was lucky to have so many talented friends to call upon. They play their part in the sound and success of Andreas Røysum Ensemble. It finds them flitting between and fusing disparate genres including African and Indian music  as well as avant-garde, chamber music, experimental, folk, free jazz, gospel, improv, jazz and Nordic jazz  and draw inspiration from Albert Ayler, Don Cherry, Pharaoh Saunders and Sun Ra. These are the ingredients for an album of ambitious, imaginative, innovative and often powerful and thought-provoking music from the truly talented ten strong Andreas Røysum Ensemble.

Andreas Røysum Ensemble-Andreas Røysum Ensemble.

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